Bamboo Art

A couple of questions from Bob following my ‘Diversifying…’ post require that I provide a couple of answers.

Firstly ArtRage is a reasonably priced program allowing many styles of painting and drawing to be imitated on the pc. Now, I have had a brief dabble with real watercolour and oil paints a long time ago. I was not particularly good at it but would certainly have got better with practice. The issue was space – where do you keep all those canvasses and papers? Oh! and have you ever tried getting Prussian Blue out of your clothes… Hair… etc? So, the idea of being able to do some art on the pc did strike me as fun.

The next issue is painting with a mouse… Not very intuitive, although some people have obviously mastered it. The solution is to get a pen pad which allows you to draw and paint using your instinctive and learned behaviours. Having read some reviews I opted for the Wacom Bamboo CTH-470K. This is actually a pen and touch pad, so it makes my pc behave like a Tablet/iPad. Only been using it for a day but it’s rapidly becoming a very good alternative to a mouse, providing greater flexibility. A bit more practice and I’ll probably use it all the time except for gaming, where I suspect the mouse will remain more intuitive.   One word of warning – this item is about the size of a large mouse-pad so you need room on your computing workstation for it and the keyboard.   A positive is that you can use a mouse as well without them conflicting – no need to keep unplugging one to use the other.

Using the two together is definitely better than a mouse. ArtRage provides the ability to trace your photos and even to pull the colors from them for your paints. I prefer to do the choice of color in a more traditional way, so I have decided against using the latter. Changing the pressure of the pen on the surface of the pad affects how much paint / pencil is deposited just as in real life though you will still need to interact with the program menus to have complete control and sometimes the words suggest a different effect than the one you get – that’s a learning issue rather than a fault with the program I suspect. Anyway, here is a preliminary drawing for a painting completed in ArtRage using the Bamboo Pen & Touch. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I’ll be in a position to complete and display the painting for you 🙂

St Andrews Kingsbury - Preliminary Sketch
St Andrew's, Kingsbury - Preliminary Sketch

Note to Bob – I did see one review that criticised the need to change settings in the Bamboo for use with Photoshop, but I can’t currently confirm whether that was a Wacom issue or a user that expects everything to be done for them (including the painting perhaps?)… You know what I mean 😉 Hope I’ve gone a short distance towards answering your questions 🙂


  1. Artrage looks really interesting, thanks for posting about it. I’ve used a Wacom pad for a long time (now it need to get a new one) once you are used to it, you’ll never understand how you got along without it.

  2. Wow! Thanks so much, Martin! I really appreciate this! I’ve long suspected a tablet would be much more intuitive (and efficient) than a mouse for many things in Photoshop/Illustrator (as you say, it can be done with a mouse, but at times it seems a bit clunky / awkward to drag around). I was also a bit curious how the mouse and tablet worked ‘together’, (I would guess I’d probably want to work with some odd combination of the two, so it’s nice to hear there isn’t a conflict there). I might have mentioned this before, but (in addition to the ability to more quickly/freely create lines/shapes) I think the pressure control of lineweight and/or opacity would be HUGE advantage… and a much more natural ‘feel’, too.
    Thank you again, Martin! Very much! This information really helps me out a lot… I think a Bamboo has definetly made it to the top of my wish list!
    Awesome sketch, too! Really does show that great varriation in line… and the texture is incredibly realistic! I can’t wait to see the painted version, too! I can already tell it’s going to be wonderul!

    1. I did hit one minor issue Bob. The driver failed to load on the second morning when I fired up the pc. A quick check online revealed that this has been experienced before and the most likely cause was a corrupt install in the first instance. I uninstalled as advised and reinstalled. No further issues have been encountered. Microsoft did a windows update on shutdown the previous evening, so I wonder if that may have caused the issue?

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